It has regularly been said that Powerpoint is the most abused PC application ever. We have all had the experience of watching lousy Powerpoint presentations and feeling pretty abused ourselves! sales presentations which insult our intelligence or which try to conceal a lack of clear thought with nifty Powerpoint design are just plain irritating. We’ve all been on the wrong end of sub-standard presentations so why do so many of us still get Powerpoint so wrong?

One of the problems is that the Powerpoint software itself is not tricky to use, even without any training, and it’s very tempting, especially if we find our own pitch tedious after over-exposure to it, to play about with fun graphics and special effects. Suddenly you realise you’ve wasted hours of time that could have been spent on structuring the message behind the presentation.

The other key mistake is to start putting together your presentation with the Powerpoint software already open. Powerpoint does not however do the thinking for you! Many messages that need to be delivered are not entirely linear or are not easily divided down into neat bullet points. Far more sensible to spend some time, either with old-fashioned pen and paper or with an alternative application working out what exactly it is you need to communicate. If you need a deadline in order to perform then leave the Powerpoint till later in the process so that you are less prone to getting distracted with all the bells and whistles!

On the other hand, there are times when you need to make an impression or convey high-level information, such as for a sales pitch to a key new client, and that’s when it may make sense to draft in a specialist. The advantage of calling in outside help is that your content is not familiar to them so they will be excellent judges as to whether your overall presentation is clear to an outside audience or not. A good company can offer a bespoke service, giving advice on every stage of the process from clarifying the central message to creating slides that clarify rather than detract from your message. Some can also coach you on your presentation style, giving you the confidence to really shine at your next pitch.

Excellent Powerpoint presentations ultimately depend on connecting with people. When all is said and done, giving sales presentations still involves public speaking which is, for most of us, a learned skill. It’s easy to attempt to deflect attention with the Powerpoint design but it’s an approach that can backfire spectacularly in terms of ultimate impact. If your next presentation is an important one, could it be time to call in the experts?

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